COLUMN: Triumph turns to tragedy

It was a moment of pure joy that quickly turned tragic.

For everyone attending the OSAA state high school wrestling championships at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Saturday night, seeing Dallas High senior Matt Hofenbredl experience the thrill of a state title before rushing to section 67 in the stands to see his grandfather, Larry Hofenbredl, transported out of the arena, was as shocking as it was saddening.

Hofenbredl’s absence atop the podium during the awards ceremony only heightened what just occurred.

Many teams claim they are a family. Dallas’ wrestling program embodies that to the fullest.

The Dallas High wrestling program has dealt with tragedy before. Each time the Dragon family, and the wrestling community at large, pulled together. His teammates left the arena with him. His teammates made sure it was OK.

A press release issued Monday by Dallas High Principal Steve Spencer revealed just how big of a family Dallas wrestling is.

“On behalf of the Matt Hofenbredl family, Dallas High School Wrestling program and Dallas School District, I wish to express sincere thanks to everyone who has shared in our grief this weekend. The outpouring of condolences and prayers from the statewide wrestling community and attendants at the tournament have been immense and are greatly appreciated. In what should have been a time of highest celebration following Matt Hofenbredl’s victory in the finals of the 132-pound OSAA Class 5A wrestling championships, his family lost Larry ‘Grandpa’ Hofenbredl to a sudden cardiac event.

“We are grateful to the many first responders at the scene, especially Dallas Assistant Coach Josh Christensen, Silverton Athletic Trainer Jennifer Kroeg, David Sarmiento Trauma/Critical Care Liaison from Bend Anesthesia Group, and Ryan Miller of Dallas.

“During this time of loss, we take comfort in knowing that Grandpa Hofenbredl passed doing something he loved above all else, supporting his grandchildren and Dragon Wresting. He will be missed as a staple of support in the stands, not just for Matt, but for all of the Dragon wrestlers.”

Visitation is Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Dallas Mortuary Tribute Center. Celebration of Life is Saturday at noon at the Dallas High School Gymnasium.

There’s little question Larry Hofenbredl was an important part of Dallas wrestling.

“Grandpa Hofenbredl was a loyal supporter and contributor to the Dallas wrestling program from the roots to the tips,” Dallas coach Tony Olliff said. “A lot of coaches got to coach and wrestlers got to travel because of his contributions. We would have preferred Matt’s third state title to be a 100 percent happy event for us, but we have no way of knowing if perhaps it might have been a 100 percent happy event for Grandpa Hofenbredl.”

As difficult as Saturday’s shocking event was, it’s Dallas’ sense of family that showed up in a big way, his teammates leaving the arena as quickly as possible to be there for their friend and classmate, something that wasn’t lost on Hofenbredl.

“I can’t thank everyone enough who has been here for me and helped me,” he tweeted.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment